DBN staff a core asset
Earlier this month Martin Inkumbi addressed the staff of the Development Bank of Namibia (DBN), urging them to greater heights in the course of 2014, after highlighting their achievements in 2013. The CEO sees the staff of the Bank, and their combined skills and intellectual capacity as one of DBN’s core assets.
The Development Bank of Namibia places a premium on highly skilled personnel. In addition to recruiting for excellence, it also provides on-the-job exposure and ongoing formal professional development.
Speaking about the qualities of the Bank’s personnel, Inkumbi said that the Bank requires highly skilled staff because of the specialised nature of its operations, which are different from commercial banking. Inkumbi, who also has a commercial banking background, highlighted the differences.
He said the scope of development banking is wider than commercial banking. Commercial banking relies on operations that are derived from past experience of the most successful approaches to achieve returns and streamline operations in favour of clients and shareholders.
The scope of financing operations in development banking, he said, is expanded by requirements that have to take into account a wider range of stakeholders. Decisions have to take into account a number of additional factors and thought patterns. These decisions challenge the abilities of the individuals who are responsible for and contribute to operations, decisions and outcomes.
He highlighted the fact that decisions have to balance project risk and the expected outcome, rather than focusing on fit to a standard financing approach.
This, he said, also has to take into account long-term viability and expected development benefits that stretch beyond the term of the finance.
He pointed out that where the project can potentially yield a high level of benefits, those contributing to the decision would be expected to advise on risk mitigation measures.
This, he noted, required personnel who can adapt to varying administrative and technical requirements. He also added that the Bank is often called on to finance enterprises with a degree of innovation and associated risk that rules out finance by commercial banks.
DBN, he said has a wide range of stakeholders, requiring a large degree of accountability and transparency in approaches to decisions and operations.
He also said that in commercial banking, returns were a strong consideration, but in development banking the composition of the balance sheet is a key indicator of success. He said that equity holdings are also an important consideration on the balance sheet.
Inkumbi said these differences require a multifaceted array of expertise on a team, and many members of team are required to possess a broad range of skills that overlapp one another.
The abilities of individuals and teams not only impact on the success of the Bank, but also on development outcomes for the nation.
Talking about the demands placed on members of the DBN team he said that individuals have to be current with development issues and objectives but also have to have exposure to the local business environment, forms of business and challenges to enterprise.
He said that staff members often have to think ‘out-of-the-box’ and respond to the business logic of an application, rather than a decision made to fit the form of an application.
He said that advanced business skills are critical as members of the Bank’s staff have been called upon to assist with resolving operational and strategic issues, and contributing to turnaround strategies, for projects with important developmental outcomes when the enterprise faces challenges.
“Senior staff members of DBN are empowered to advise in terms of the Bank’s values, so the ability to understand and employ the Bank’s values and governance models is also key to the Bank’s success.”
The initial requirement for employment by DBN, he said, is a suitable qualification and experience in an environment which parallels the Bank’s operation, but that the Bank takes sound measures to induct recruits and develop human resource capacity.
These measures include development of experience on the job, budgeting for formal education and development, fast-tracking of key individuals and succession strategies.
Talking about the impact of its personnel, he said the Bank is reaping a return from its human resource approach. He said the team not only has an impact on the developmental outcomes that the Bank produces but also on the future of Namibia.
He said that although the Bank has a low staff turnover, some individuals have moved on to pursue ambitions and have taken up senior roles in the public and private sectors.
Inkumbi added that the pool of skills and knowledge within DBN could contribute to the broader skills pool needed by Namibia as the financial and enterprise environment developed. He said the Bank employs and develops individuals who are skilled as administrators, advisors, managers and decision makers. Inkumbi concluded that the Bank’s human resource pool could conceivably also contribute to evolution and development of Namibia’s economy by providing the early skills needed for management of equity and venture capital.